The Texas appeals court recently affirmed a ruling on a prenuptial agreement. The wife claimed she was coerced because the husband refused to marry her unless she signed a prenuptial agreement. She also claimed that the agreement was unconscionable for several reasons – notably, she would have been forced to leave the United States and likely would have been an outcast if she had the couple’s baby out of wedlock in Vietnam.
Prenuptial agreements can be an extremely useful tool for couples getting married. Once the domain of the wealthy, these contracts are increasingly common for couples in various tax brackets. They typically are used to establish financial rights and obligations if the couple later decides to file for divorce.
In the recent case here in Texas, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of the husband. Texas courts are prone to favor freedom of contract, which is a concept where contracts are based on mutual agreement and free choice.
Ways he strengthened the prenup
The husband did many things right to help ensure that the ruling was a positive one and subsequently upheld in appeals court:
- The husband gave her a prenup agreement to look at before she came to the United States to visit. Though she did not speak English, she had it translated and requested a change.
- When she came to the U.S. and later announced her pregnancy, the husband requested that she sign the agreement with her change before getting married.
- The husband found her a Vietnamese-speaking attorney in Texas. He paid for legal services, but he did not attend the consultation.
- The couple then signed the agreement in the attorney’s office after the consultation.
The courts looked at “unconscionable”
The term “unconscionable” was used by the plaintiff several times in the case, and it is an important concept when reviewing prenuptial agreements. Reasons for claims that the contract was unconscionable included that her lawyer did not have sufficient time to review the contract, she was an immigrant who did not understand what she was signing, the husband divulged community assets instead of all assets, and the implied threat, as mentioned earlier, to either sign the agreement or go back to Vietnam.
Smart legal advice can yield positive results
Sometimes difficult cases like this are litigated and then reviewed again in appeals court, but not all attorneys are skilled at handling them. Depending on the parties and the nature of the dispute, it may be necessary to contact an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Tarrant County, Midland County, Ector County, or elsewhere throughout Texas. Such an attorney can be a tremendous asset in drafting or enforcing prenuptial agreements as well as defending them in court and appellate court.